Mabel Staupers

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  • Topic: Nursing, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, African American
  • Pages : 6 (802 words )
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  • Published : February 5, 2013
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Mabel Keaton Staupers was born in Barbados, West Indies on February 27, 1890. She

came to the U.S. in 1903 with her parents. She attended a nursing school in D.C. and

graduated with honors. After graduating, she married James Max Keaton only to later

divorce. Her second marriage to Fritz C. Staupers ended with his death in 1949.

Mabel Staupers was influenced by many factors growing up. She saw the discrimination

against African Americans as a child. Later she would see first hand the struggles of

African American nurses and patients during the early 1900’s. During this time it was

difficult for an African American nurse to find employment. They often had to take

positions as private duty nurses, since hospital positions were few and far between. It was

also difficult for African American nurses to obtain a higher education, as there were few

higher education colleges excepting African American students. Another significant

influence for Staupers was the limited membership into nursing organizations for African

Americans. If they were able to gain a membership, they were often limited

memberships. All of these struggles influenced Mabel Staupers to work towards ending

discrimination for African Americans.

Throughout her career, Mabel Staupers had many successes. Staupers was one of the few

African American nurses to be granted admission to nursing school. She attended

Freedman’s Hospital School of Nursing in D.C. in 1917. After graduating she moved to

New York to help establish the Booker T. Washington Sanitarium in Harlem, New York.

This was the first hospital to treat African American’s with tuberculosis. She also held a

position on the Citizens’ Committee affiliated with the New York local Association of

Colored Graduate Nurses. However, she found the most pride in her position with the

National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). She was not only a member

since its inception; she was named the president of the NACGN during the years of 1949-

1951. The NACGN mission was to end discrimination towards African Americans by

college officials and the healthcare system and to strive towards integration of African

American nurses into all aspects of nursing. One aspect of nursing that Staupers felt

strongly about was limited access African American nurses had in the Army and Navy

Nurses Corps. During WWII, there was a shortage of nurses and Staupers took full

advantage of the situation. She used the shortage as leverage for African American nurses

to gain access to the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. She worked closely with Eleanor

Roosevelt through a letter writing campaign, convincing politicians to recognize all

nurses; black or white. By 1945, Staupers successfully ended discrimination in the Armed

Forces Nurse Corps. Another success for Staupers came in 1948, when her years of work

with the NACGN helped African American nurses gain full acceptance into the American

Nurses Association (ANA).

Mabel Staupers was honored for her work in nursing by receiving many awards. She was

a recipient of the Mary Mahoney Award, an award given twice a year to those that have

made significant contributions to those that help promote desegregation. Staupers was

recognized for her leadership and contributions to African American nurses by receiving

the Spingarn Medal for 1951. The Spingarn Committee is affiliated with the NAACP.

She was also inducted into the ANA in 1996 due to her valiant efforts to eliminate

discrimination. This was a huge accomplishment given that this was the same

organization that restricted memberships to African American nurses until 1949.

Staupers, at the age of 71, documented the history of African Americans in nursing in a

book titled, No Time for Prejudice. Although described as an autobiography, I found it to

be more of an account of the history of nursing. She...
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